What happened in the FTSE 100 today?

The FTSE 100 index struggled to gain momentum today, underperforming due to the strength of the pound and mounting anticipation of an upcoming interest rate hike by the Bank of England.

One of the highlights of the day was Vodafone’s announcement of a merger between its UK arm and CK Hutchison, a move aimed at diverting attention from the Federal Reserve. Vodafone’s shares saw a modest increase of 0.57% following the confirmation of this merger.

The telecommunications giants will join forces to combine their respective UK businesses, with Vodafone taking a 51% stake and CK Hutchison holding the remaining 49%. CK Hutchison, a conglomerate based in Hong Kong, boasts a portfolio encompassing telecommunications, ports, infrastructure, and retailing. It is the proud owner of Three UK.

Shell, the energy giant, experienced a 0.5% increase in its share price today. The company revealed plans to repurchase shares worth a minimum of $5 billion during the latter half of 2023. This buyback program surpasses the previous $4 billion initiative announced by Shell in February alongside its 2022 financial results.

Robert Walters, a prominent recruitment firm, faced a 13% decline in its shares. The company disclosed that its profits for 2023 are projected to fall significantly below market expectations. Reduced levels of candidate confidence and an extended hiring process were cited as key factors contributing to this downward revision.

In a surprising turn of events, WE Soda, a soda ash producer, decided to withdraw its planned initial public offering (IPO) in London. CEO Alasdair Warren acknowledged that the London market’s extreme investor caution prevented them from reaching a valuation that truly reflects WE Soda’s distinct financial and operational characteristics.

The cancellation of WE Soda’s IPO deals a blow to the London market, especially following recent high-profile names, such as Arm, opting to list in New York. The City had initially welcomed WE Soda’s IPO announcement, but it seems the cautious sentiment prevailing among UK investors has dampened enthusiasm for new listings.

While the FTSE 100 index managed a slight gain of 7.96 points or 0.1%, closing at 7,602.74, its counterpart, the FTSE 250, slipped by 13.00 points or 0.1% to 19,175.50. Simultaneously, the AIM All-Share index experienced a minor decline of 0.53 points or 0.1%, finishing the day at 794.19.